Welcome to the latest installment of the Streetcar Monthly Pass. If you’ve already purchased a pass, thank you! If you haven’t, you should check out this page to learn how it works. Below you’ll find some information about each of this month’s six Monthly Pass selections. If you bought a 2 or 4 bottle package and one of the wines you didn’t get piques your curiosity, we have all six in stock. Unfortunately, we can’t swap out one wine for another, since they aren’t all equal in value. On to the wines!
2012 Domane du Petit Coteau Vouvray Sec
appellation: Vouvray (Loire), France
grape variety: chenin blanc
Just ten years ago, after a successful career as a surgeon, old man Feray returned to his childhood home in Vouvray, and established Domaine du Petit Coteaux. He had no previous knowledge or experience making wine, but together with winemaker Jérôme Loisy and vineyard manager Tony Brulin he has learned what it takes to run a successful domaine. The property has 16 hectares of old chenin blanc vines (farmed organically), and produces just three still wines, running the spectrum from bone dry to dessert, as well as one sparkling wine. This cuvée, named “Les grenouilles”(the frogs) after the vineyard site, is dry and racy, with pretty white fruit aromas, silky body, and a long acid-driven finish. This is a versatile white, pleasant and refreshing on its own, but substantial enough to stand up to richer dishes, like white fish cooked in browned butter, or roasted chicken.
2014 Benvenuti Malvazija Istarska
appellation: Istra, Croatia
grape variety: malvazija istarska
organic (not certified)
Naturally, one might associate malvazija istarska with the malvasia-this-or-that growing in regions across the Italian mainland and islands, likely to have been brought over from Greece before the Roman Empire. Depending on who you believe, this is either partly true or not at all true. Most accounts point to its having originated in Istra, the northwest corner of Croatia that was once part of Italy. Another hypothesis relates to its proven genetic semblance to malvasia di lipari, a variety that pops up on Sicily and Sardegna. All confusing, really. In any case, look no further for a textbook example of the grape, from one of the acknowledge most reliable and quality-oriented producers in Istra. Benvenuti produces wine from just three varieties: malvazija istarska, muscat, and for red wines, teran, each bearing the distinct mark of the eastern Adriatic coast. A plate of warm olives, sheep’s milk cheese, and fresh bread is all you need to go with this one.
2014 Gaspard Pinot Noir
appellation: Saint Pourçain, France
grape variety: pinot noir
Saint Pourçain can alternately be viewed as a western outpost of the region of Auvergne, an upstream extension of the Loire river valley, a distant satellite of Beaujolais, or a region in and of itself. Chardonnay and tressalier form the basis for the region’s white wines, while gamay and pinot noir are the main red varieties. Wine plays second fiddle in the area to Puy lentils, who have an AOC all of their own. We like the idea of a simple, satisfying bowl of lentils with fried onions, brightened by the high-toned red fruit this wine brings.
2012 Le Ringue Bordeaux Supérieur
appellation: Bordeaux, France
grape varieties: merlot, cabernet franc
organic (not certified)
Le Ringue is brought to us by our friend, New York resident, and Bordeaux winemaker and importer Michele D’Aprix. Few winemaking regions are victim to the borderline hateful derision of Bordeaux these days, and largely for good reason. Bordeaux might be considered ground zero for the globalization and homogenization of wine. We believe that D’Aprix is at the forefront of what we hope to be a movement to reclaim the hallowed and historic terroir of Bordeaux. Michele’s connection with winemaker Stéphane Derenoncourt led to the creation of a small portfolio of like-minded Right Bank estates, including this small production merlot from fourth-generation winemaker Christophe Quebec. Missing from this wine are the typical Bordelais trappings of excessive oak, extract and winery tricks, leaving what merlot is meant to be: full but not heavy, fruity but not cloying, and perfectly suitable to a wide range of cozy home cooking.
2013 Mas Marer
appellation: Montsant, Spain
grape varieties: garnacha, syrah, cabernet, merlot
organic (not certified)
The Monsant DO, only recently established in 2001, sits like a lower elevation ring almost completely encircling the famed steep hillsides of Priorat, just west of Barcelona in Catalonia. Sarah Perez and Rene Barbier Jr. established Mas Marer just 5 years ago, with the goal of applying all their families knowledge and expertise making wine in the Priorat to the dramatically different terroir of Monsant. This cuvee is a blend of 40% garnacha, 30% syrah, and 30% cabernet sauvignon and merlot. Despite its obvious body and intense dark fruit, it remains remarkably fresh and balanced with bright acidity. That levity is a direct translation of Monsant’s granitic soils, which keep the vines cool and fresh through the region’s hot summer nights. Pair this blend with anything on the grill (try ribs!), or a simple plate of sliced chorizo and marcona almonds.
2011 Cantina del Taburno “Fidelis”
appellation: Sannio (Campania), Italy
grape varieties: aglianico, sangiovese, merlot
This small winery is the work of the local Consortium of Benevento, tucked alongside the Taburno mountain in Campania. The consortium is made up of about 300 growers, who all together farm about 450 hectares of vines in the surrounding villages. The cantina produces a handful of wines with local grapes grown by these members, including falanghina, coda di volpe, and aglianico. This cuvée is 90% aglianico, and 10% sangiovese and merlot. It sees a long maceration before vinification and time spent in traditional wood barrels. The result is a dense, supple red, with plenty of characteristic aglianico spice. This is a great red for more rustic dishes, like braised lamb or spicy sausage stewed in tomatoes.